The Malta Independent 21 October 2021, Thursday

David Casa calls for binding laws on protection of journalists

Thursday, 16 September 2021, 12:30 Last update: about 2 months ago

There should be laws in place to protect journalists, rather than non-binding recommendations, MEP David Casa said.

“If implemented, the recommendations, put forward today by the European Commission, should ensure that journalists across Europe are better protected and able to perform their job in a better way. However, the recommendations addressed by Member States are not binding. Therefore, we will continue to insist that the European Commission publishes legislative acts which will bind all the EU governments to change their laws to protect journalists.”

Speaking from Strasbourg, right after the European Commission published its “Recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety, and empowerment of journalists and other media professionals in the European Union”, the Co-Chair of the European Parliament’s Media Working Group David Casa praised this initiative, but called for more concrete actions by the Commission.

“Yesterday was an important day for our fight against big businesses which try to stop journalists from doing their investigative work. The statements made by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during the State of the Union’s speech, showed the determination of the Commission in having strong laws which really and truly protect journalists and media houses from continuous harassment. Now, I expect that these words are translated into action, which will, undoubtedly, find the European Parliament’s support,” David Casa said.

Recommendations put forward today by the European Commission include that Member States are encouraged to:

+ provide timely and effective protection to journalists under threat

+ investigate and prosecute all criminal acts committed against journalists

+ support civil society organisations initiatives aimed at raising awareness

+ regular exchange of views between law enforcement forces and journalist associations

+ not impose strict formal conditions in relation to press cards

+ provide specialist services, such as legal and psychological, to journalists facing threats

Quaestor David Casa underlined the two legislative initiatives that should be prioritized and on which he has been insisting on in the past years, are anti-SLAPP laws and EU funding to support journalism. “We also very much look forward to legislative proposals to address threats to media freedom. Some of our priorities include increased EU funding, support and resources made available to journalists and media houses across Europe. Anti-SLAPP legislation is also needed urgently. This will go a long way in protecting journalists against vexatious and overly costly lawsuits.”

Concluding, MEP Casa referred to the statement made by the European Commission President in her speech yesterday: “Defending media freedom means defending our democracy.”

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